Thursday, June 18, 2015

How Will Spider-Man be Introduced to the MCU?

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So now that Spider-Man is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, what does that mean for the character and the franchise?  The fact that Marvel Studios was willing to play ball with Sony at all suggests that they have definite plans for the character moving forward.  They have announced that the new Spider-Man will be appearing in a Marvel movie first before appearing in his own movie on July 28, 2017.  Following the solo movie, it is assumed that Marvel will use him in one or both of the Avengers: Infinity War movies, and then have Sony release Spider-Man sequels and spinoffs every couple years during Phase Four.  In looking at Spider-Man’s role in the MCU, I’m going to divide this article up into three sections:  His introduction, his solo movie(s), and his Marvel Studios movie appearances.

The Introduction

As noted above, Marvel is going to introduce Spider-Man to the MCU with a minor role in one of the Marvel Studios installments in advance of his solo movie.  There are only so many possible movies for Spider-Man to appear in to set up his own movie:

  • Ant-Man – Possible as an end-credit scene, though unlikely
  • Captain America: Civil War – Most likely possibility, especially since casting rumors are heating up, but only as a minor role.  After all, they’re already going to be introducing Black Panther in anticipation of his solo movie coming in 2018.  Plus there’s the little thing of Iron-Man and Captain America facing off, backed by virtually every hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe!
  • Doctor Strange – Possible, especially since it hasn’t really entered pre-production yet.  However, I don’t know the character well enough to hazard a guess at how Spider-Man would fit into a Doctor Strange movie.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – I *highly* doubt it (though an end-credit scene is always a possibility).  They could use GotG2 to set up the symbiote (Venom) for a future Spider0Man appearance, however.

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Other possibilities for a Spider-Man set-up appearance are for him to appear in either a One-Shot (which would be a good, efficient way to retell his origin story if they so desire) or an episode or two of a TV series.  The former seems unlikely; I’m pretty sure Marvel and Sony want to make as much money off Spider-Man as they can, and there’s not much money in a One-Shot.  The latter possibility would give them time to delve much deeper into the character and build up the connections between Spider-Man and the rest of the MCU.  If they introduce him via TV series, I think he could work in a couple of them.  A Spider-Man appearance on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seems like the kind of thing that could give the series a huge boost in terms of ratings and appeal (not that it really needs a boost in appeal after last season; AoS has just been getting better since it started) and perhaps coax back some of the fans who bailed during Season 1.  Next season, they may be able to introduce him with a small story arc (perhaps his origin), especially if he’s going to appear in Captain America: Civil War and they want to establish him before then.  If they are going to produce a Ms. Marvel miniseries focusing on Kamala Khan during the midseason break this year, that would be another intriguing possibility, as Peter Parker may be around the same age as the teenaged Kamala Khan, and connecting their two teenaged hero superstars’ initial appearances makes sense.

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However, given Marvel’s stated desire to introduce Peter Parker as a teenaged street-level hero and let him grow up on-screen, I think he might fit in a little better with The Defenders in a small role in either Daredevil season 2, Luke Cage, or Iron Fist next year before his solo movie comes out in 2017.  Alternatively, as I mentioned in a previous article, Spider-Man could appear in The Defenders in early 2017, setting them up to appear in the movie that July.  This would be a good way to use Spider-Man to build connections between the street-level and Avengers-level heroes in the MCU, especially if Marvel is planning to use Spider-Man as one of the faces of the franchise going forward after Phase 3.

A third possibility—one I really doubt—would be for his total initial appearance to be in an MCU tie-in comic book, perhaps associated with Captain America: Civil War, but maybe even an independent tie-in.  Given that Marvel doesn’t make a ton of money off of tie-in comic books, I think they would just be shooting themselves in the foot if that was Spidey’s entire introduction to the MCU.

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The ideal might be to introduce him in small ways in several media before the solo movie.  Show some of his webbing in Jessica Jones to lay some of the groundwork.  Then introduce him via a 2-episode arc on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a potential recruit for Skye’s Secret Warriors (which he will not join).  All of this sets Spider-Man up to appear in Captain America: Civil War with a glorified cameo.  This leads up to him appearing briefly on one of next year’s Marvel Netflix series as an amateur photographer (who shows up in his suit to fight alongside the heroes in a battle—awesome!).  Then if there is interest in seeing a rehash of his origin, that could easily be done in a tie-in comic connected with the release of the reboot movie in 2017.

Either way, Spider-Man’s first MCU appearance probably won’t be huge at this stage of the game unless it is in a TV series—and even then it won’t be very large unless it is on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which has the time to devote several episodes to him.  But this first appearance is only intended to set up Spider-Man to appear in an MCU-connected reboot movie.

The Solo Movie(s)

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On July 28, 2017, Sony will be releasing a new Spider-Man movie (supposedly titled “The Spectacular Spider-Man” or “Spider-Man: The New Avenger”), the first of at least one trilogy of MCU-based Spider-Man movies.  Very little is known about this movie:  we know that it is linked to the MCU and that Marvel is targeting a young actor (mid to late teens) to portray a teenaged Peter Parker who is still in high school—and will stay in high school for a couple of movies.  Just about everything else we “know” is merely rumor for now.

According to one of the rumors that came out of the Sony hack—the same rumor which had Spider-Man appearing in Civil War alongside Iron Man and Black Panther—the Spidey solo film would be following up on the Civil War storyline and include appearances by two MCU characters as a way to build up the shared universe nature of the reboot.  One of the rumors about who those MCU characters might be suggested that Iron Man could be one of them:  Tony Stark approaches Peter Parker to test him before recruiting him to a new Avengers team.  This would be a huge boost for that solo film, since it would make the connections important and feature the character that is arguably the current face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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However, an argument can also be made for using street-level MCU characters in the Spider-Man movie because that allows them to build the character up and develop him slowly.  If they rush him into being recruited by the Avengers in his first solo outing, that would cut past some significant developmental steps.  On the other hand, if they introduce him with a bit part in Civil War, flesh his character out with a larger role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or The Defenders, and then focus the solo movie on more of the street-level effects of the Superhuman Registration Act (or its MCU equivalent), then we can see the character develop and evolve.  Then when he appears in The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 or 2, it will be more organic, and when he joins the Avengers team in the aftermath of the Infinity War, it will be far more meaningful for him—and for the audience.

Another rumor—at least as far as I know it is unconfirmed—is that the Russo brothers (directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, and The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 and 2) will be involved as producers of the Spider-Man solo film.  Either of these rumors sounds interesting; the first in particular drives home just how important Spider-Man will be to Phase 3 and beyond.

Looking at the future solo films, we can’t really say what they will be about or how they will connect to the MCU beyond the rumor that they will each focus on another year of Peter Parker’s life in high school, but from everything we know so far, Marvel wants them to be as important to Phase 4 and beyond of the MCU as the Iron Man films were to Phases 1-3.

The MCU Connections

Given that Spider-Man is most likely going to be the face of the MCU for many years to come following the Infinity War, it seems only natural for him to start popping up all over the place.  Obviously we can’t have any idea how or where he will be appearing, but I don’t think it would be unreasonable for us to expect to see him appear once per year in either a solo film or a team-up film for the foreseeable future.

We already know or can guess at a few of Spider-Man’s appearances in Marvel Phase 3:  Captain America: Civil War (2016), [The Spectacular] Spider-Man (2017), The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 (2018) and 2 (2019).  In addition, they may decide to have the second Spider-Man solo film come out in 2019, along with The Inhumans, to introduce Phase 4, though it could also come out in 2020 as the third or fourth movie in Phase 4.  If in Phase 4 Marvel decides to use more team-up and crossover movies, then Spider-Man could have roles in those yearly team-ups as either a behind-the-scenes leader like Nick Fury with a minor part or a regular member with a larger part.  Regardless of how Spider-Man appears, I expect that we will see a lot of the Web-Slinger moving forward now that Marvel has him!

How do you think Marvel is going to use Spider-Man now that they have him?  Do you think he’s going to start popping up all over the place?  Do you want him to start popping up all over the place?

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